Academic says Gabby Petito homicide coverage threatens to turn the case into ‘entertainment’

A California State University academic has said that the Gabby Petito homicide coverage threatens to turn the case into “entertainment.”

Danielle Slakoff, who specialises in criminal justice and the media was quoted in the New York Times as saying that there were a number of reasons people were interested in the 22-year-old YouTuber’s case. She said that because Petito documented the road trip on her social media, “providing glimpses of her life,” people wanted to feel that they were “part of the story” by helping to solve her disappearance.

Prof Slakoff pointed out that research and her own work has shown that “white missing women and girls do receive more initial coverage and they do receive more repeated coverage.”

She said that white women in the media were usually portrayed as “good people” while women of colour were often depicted as risk-takers or “somehow complicit in their own disappearances.”

Emphasising the media coverage, she pointed out: “I don’t think we can discount the profit motive and the fact that, historically, these types of stories have gotten tons of engagement, viewers and clicks. So I do think it could be argued that it’s kind of this vicious cycle.”